Live Attenuated Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC) Vaccine with dmLT Adjuvant Protects Human Volunteers Against Virulent Experimental ETEC Challenge
BACKGROUND: There is no licensed vaccine against enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), a major cause of diarrhea-associated morbidity and mortality among infants and children in low-income countries and travelers. The results of this vaccination/challenge study demonstrate strong protection by an attenuated ETEC vaccine candidate, ACE527, when co-administered with a mucosal adjuvant, the double-mutant heat-labile toxin (dmLT) of ETEC.
METHODS: Sixty healthy adults participated in a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study with three doses of lyophilized ACE527 (∼3 × 10 of each strain per dose) administered orally with or without dmLT adjuvant (25 µg/dose). Six months later, 36 of these volunteers and a control group of 21 unvaccinated volunteers were challenged with virulent ETEC strain H10407. The primary outcome was severe diarrhea, defined as passing >800 g of unformed stools during the inpatient period following challenge.
FINDINGS: The vaccine was well tolerated and induced robust immune responses to key antigens. The protective efficacy (PE) against the primary outcome of severe diarrhea was 65.9% (95% confidence interval [CI] 5.4-87.7, p = 0.003). Among subjects receiving the adjuvanted vaccine, the attack rate of severe diarrhea was 23.1, while in unimmunized controls it was 67.7%. The PE against diarrhea of any severity was 58.5% (95% CI 3.8- 82.1, p = 0.016). There was a strong inverse correlation between shedding of the vaccine strain after either of the first two doses and absence of severe diarrhea upon challenge (RR = 0.29, 95% CI 0.08-1.05, p = 0.041). Challenge strain shedding was 10-fold lower in those receiving the adjuvant than in those receiving vaccine alone. The unadjuvanted vaccine was not protective (PE = 23.1%).
INTERPRETATION: The results of this study support further development of ACE527 + dmLT as a vaccine for children in endemic countries and travelers. This is the first clinical demonstration that dmLT can contribute significantly to vaccine efficacy and may warrant testing with other oral vaccines. (ClinicalTrials.gov registration: NCT01739231).